At Ferme de Tarbes in Villelongue-d’Aude we live by love and organic

The series “A farmer, a village” paints portraits of growers, winegrowers, gardeners, wood farmers … Women, men, families attached to their land, their farms, their production, their village. They tell their daily life, their history and that of a sector that has seen many (r) evolutions. Today meet with Justine and Yann Marmezy in Villelongue-d’Aude.

She was a physiotherapist, he navigated between construction and IT, and it was about to travel in woofing that Justine and Yann Marnezy got closer to farming. When they wanted to have a joint activity related to the land and the animals, they decided to start breeding sheep. After training and trying out a farm nursery in the Drôme for two years with a couple of animals and a bungalow for the cheese dairy, they started looking for land to settle on. The couple had not imagined their project other than organic, and they had to find a minimum area to meet the labeling criteria and ensure grazing and feed for at least 50 ewes, the threshold for obtaining sheep support. In 2014, they set their sights on an old farm surrounded by about fifty hectares in the town of Villelongue-d’Aude. “ It seemed to us to be an ideal territory and also with land that was affordable for us …

“. Justine moved in first before Yann did the same. Together they set up a GAEC (joint farming group). After 7 years of work and investment, including the construction of a magnificent shed all clad in wood, the herd now counts about a hundred animals. This is a limit that we do not want to exceed in order to maintain an affective aspect of our work. They do not all have a name, but we know them all … We have an emotional relationship with our animals in general, but also with our soil, our trees, our cheeses, and it would not make sense for us to work otherwise. ! It’s a time consuming job when you do it well, but that’s how we always like it !

As a complementary activity, the couple had embarked on an outdoor pig farm, which counted up to forty animals. The new standards, which impose very large investments in fencing to prevent any contact with wild boar, have put an end to this activity. These standards oblige to install solid and buried fences and therefore always keep the animals confined in the same room. The investment was too big and we did not want it for our animals …

Over the years, Justine and Yann have gradually developed an extensive menu and are now able to offer empty, brousse, blue, feta, camembert as well as yogurt, soft curds, chocolate dessert creams, which they market in Biocoop, supermarkets bios and on Carcassonne and Courtauly market. The sale of lambs reared 6 to 8 months below their mother also forms part of their income. It’s not the most pleasant thing about the job, but if you want sheep’s milk and cheese, you have to be willing to kill lambs …

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You will be fed and housed abroad for free for small tasks within an organic farm

Planting fodder trees The farm Tarbes is a test site for experiments with fodder hedges in order to remedy the lack of grass due to droughts. This experiment carried out by the agricultural chamber of Aude updates an old practice of silvopastoralism, in which the herds were allowed to feed on the leaves of the trees. In addition to the resulting saving in feed, the leaves are very popular among animals and contain nutrients that grass does not. Like all hedges, these have the effect of limiting erosion, retaining soil moisture by creating shady areas where animals can seek refuge and also breaking the winds that help dry out the soil. They also make it possible to preserve or restore an entire biodiversity, especially of pollinating insects and more birds. When planted, the young trees are naturally protected so that they are not consumed immediately, and the results of this action will only be effective in a few years.

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